Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day 34 : Gerik

Date : April 5th, 2009
Distance travelled : 0 km
Time taken : 0 hours

Wow, it was great to have such a good sleep last night! After the punishment our bodies went through yesterday, they really deserved a good rest :o)

We woke up around 10am and went looking for breakfast. Today, we had a whole load of clothes to wash as it had been accumulating since a few days back! Mak said that we should have just sent our clothes to the laundry but too late as we already soaked them last night! We also needed to clean our bikes as it rained last night and the chains needed to be cleaned from the sand and dirt. So, I guessed it was cleaning day for us today!!

After breakfast, I started washing our clothes and our dear friend decided to "rest" for awhile while waiting for me to finish. Our deal was that I wash the clothes and he would hang them up at the rooftop of the hotel, which was five floors up! In the end, after washing all the clothes, I found our friend sleeping like a baby!! I didn't have the heart to wake him up so I went up to hang the clothes myself....

View of from the rooftop of our hotel :o)

Part of Gerik town from the rooftop...

When Mak woke up next, it was already 3pm!! Hmm....so who was the one that was more tired in the end?? :o) He woke up, looking lost because our room was really dark and you couldn't tell whether it was night or day!! When I told him it was already 3pm, he had a shock that he slept for so long since 12noon! As usual, he started feeling hungry again and we decided to go look for tea since we already skipped lunch.

We walked down the street and found this stall selling all the fried stuff like "cucur udang", curry puffs, doughnuts etc.. We bought some and went to a mamak stall nearby to eat. Boy, the food was delicious!! It was so good that I went back to buy the "cucur udang" for the second time :o) I have never tasted such good "cucur udang"!! Yummy!!

We went exploring the small town and soon came back to our hotel. Mak planned to clean the bikes but we were told that there was no electricity in the whole town of Gerik! So we kind of hung outside the hotel to wait for the electricity to come back. There had been disruption throughout the day! Good thing that it rained earlier and made the day cool and nice. Not too good news for our clothes though! But not to worry, they'll dry in the air condition room, ie if the electricity came back in time!!

It was about 6pm when we saw a foreign couple riding in with their colourful front and back panniers! They were using the same panniers as us! Ortlieb :o) They stopped opposite our hotel and Mak asked me to go and talk to them and let them know that our hotel was cool! So I went over and introduced myself to them. Found out that they were from Australia and Canada. Jo was Australian and Nick was from Canada. They too just came in from Jeli and they said it was a tough ride for them too!!

After chatting for awhile, we made plans to meet for dinner and to exchange our stories :o) It was a nice change, being able to share our stories with another counterpart! That night, we took them for a Chinese meal at a nearby restaurant and just exchanged stories. We had such a great time, introducing the local dishes to them and they really enjoyed the food! They said that without us, they wouldn't know what to order etc! We were their tour guide for the night hehehe

We found out that they started from Singapore and toured from the east coast just like us :o) Their next destination was to Penang and we told them that we were heading for Betong in Thailand next and invited them to join us if they were keen since it was along the way to Penang. They said yes, they would love to join us!

So after a few hours of chatting, we made plans for tomorrow and headed off for bed. We were told that our room's air condition had a problem and they gave us another room to stay for the night. The second room was much nicer :o)

Tomorrow....Betong, Mak's second home??

Meet our new touring friends from Canada and Australia, Nick and Jo!!

Day 33 :Jeli - Banding island - Gerik

Date : April 4th, 2009
Distance travelled : 128 km
Time taken : 8.40 hours

We woke up really early this morning, about 5.30am, the earliest ever in our tour!! After having some bread with peanut butter, we got ready and started our journey about 7am. Jeli town was misty and cold in the morning! It was really beautiful though, the air was so fresh because of the mountains nearby :o)

We knew today's ride was going to be toughest ever as there will be lots of uphill and not much downhill!! We started riding out to gradual slopes and passed by this beautiful river. The view was just amazing!

This river looked much better in real life :o)

Opposite view from the bridge

My, you sure look wide awake for this early in the morning, my boy :o)

We stopped by a small stall and had some food before moving on. Mak had to have his coffee in the morning to perk him up before cycling :o) The view was so beautiful that we asked someone to take a picture for us while we were having our breakfast :o)

Having our breakfast in the mist :o)

After our short stop, we continued on with our journey. Since we passed by so many food stalls while riding out of Jeli, I made the mistake of assuming there will be more to come! Of all days, we forgot to buy extra water for today's ride! Well, I must say that wasn't very smart of us but things did work for us in the end :o) We were both running out of water after awhile and were wondering when is the next water stop!!

We stopped by a small waterfall and took a short rest there. Mak took out his multipurpose towel and wet it in the clear stream. He gave it to me to wipe my face and it was so refreshing after the sweat and grime! We met a few guys there who were eating durians and they invited us to have some. We declined as we were already running out of water and besides, durian was "heaty". We asked them about any shops nearby and they described where it was. We weren't too clear but at least, we had an idea that there would be a shop somewhere along the road! We then said goodbye to them and headed on.

We then came across this attractive signboard that said the next R&R was about 3km away! The pictures on the signboard depicted modern looking toilets, people on jet skis on the lake, restaurants etc...We were so happy to see that signboard and it lifted our spirits up! Yay, it was only 3 km more for us to refill our water!!

When we reached the so called R&R, we were in for a surprise as we came to an abandoned lot!! What??? Whatever happened to the restaurants, people mingling around???? Mak was so mad that he stopped to see the so called high tech toilets. I asked him after what he saw and he muttered "It's all a waste of money!!!" and I got the picture :o)

Well, never one to be down for long, we moved on and after cycling for another 2km, we came across a small shop!! Yahoo!!! A shop, a shop at last!!! We quickly went in and asked whether we could buy water and the shopkeeper told us that they ran out of mineral water but we could fill our bottles from their water filter tank. So thankfully, we refilled our bottles and had a snack while resting. We checked our map and realised that we only cycled about 20km so far and had about 100 km plus to go and it was already coming to 12 noon!!! Boy, it was going to be a LOOOOONNNNGGG day!!

Out of this world!!

Man, the hills are tough going!! We had to take a breather every 20 minutes or so!

and more to come!!!!

Yup, another stop!!

Wow, we are in Perak again??

Warning! Wild elephants on the run!!!

Hmm.....they were here!! Elephant dung :o)

As we continued cycling uphill towards the Titiwangsa rest area, we kept stopping and having short breaks,munching snacks and powerbars to keep our energy up as we didn't know how far more we had before reaching the rest area.

The sky too began to change from bright and sunny to dark and gloomy and we knew that a storm was coming! We hoped that we would be able to make it to the rest area before the heavens opened its gates and poured down on us :o) After cycling for a short while, the sight of the rest area in front brought much relief to us and before we knew it, we were there before the rain came down! Phew!!

We were very happy to have reached the peak and knew that it will be downhill all the way until Banding island! (or so we thought!) Initially, we planned to stay in Banding island but due to lack of accommodation, we decided to stay in Gerik instead.

Look at how fast the weather changed from bright and sunny to....

....dark & gloomy next!!

the view from the Titiwangsa rest area

After having a well deserved rest and food, we started our journey again about 3pm after the rain stopped. It was COLD coming down the hill!! Thank goodness for our rain jackets :o) After cruising down the hill, we came to another slope! Eh....what happened to all the downhills?? Anyway, it wasn't that long and soon we were cycling downhill again. The road towards Banding island wasn't downhill all the way but it was more like rolling hills. We reached the picturesque Temengor lake and Banding island about 4.30pm. The sight was beautiful! We stopped to take some photos before heading onwards to Gerik.

My dear partner in crime told me that a lot of people came here for fishing and that he used to come here as well. Apparently, you could only fish on one side of the lake as the other side is prohibited! You should ask him one day to tell you his story about the "other side of the lake" episode hehehe....

Finally, we have reached Temenggor lake!

Wow!! So picturesque !!

Have wheels will travel!!

While on Banding island, Mak kept telling me that Gerik was only about 25km to 30km and it should take us about an hour plus to reach. We asked a guy who was having a picnic by the roadside and he confirmed it too. So with renewed energy, we plodded on and I thought we would reach Gerik about 6pm the latest. From the map, we knew that there was going to be another 10km of uphill before the downhill but we didn't realise that it was going to be so steep and long!!!

When we hit the first hill, I had to stop and pushed my bike because they were doing roadworks and made it really impossible to cycle. Mak tried to cycle for a bit before he too, got down and pushed his bike! We pushed our bikes up and up and up the steep hill and I was really,really exhausted by then! I had to stop and have a rest.

Because of my sheer exhaustion, I took it out on my poor partner-in-crime! I told him that he pushed me too far this time and that I wished the elephants would come out and chase him!!! (Throughout the tour, this part of the route was the most worrying for him as he didn't wish to meet with any of the wild elephants while I actually wouldn't mind catching sight of one!! hehehe) Poor guy! He took it like a real gentleman and didn't even retaliate back! He told me he too was tired and that we both have been cycling long and hard as well.

I stewed for awhile but one good thing came out of this was that it gave me the extra strength to push on, no matter how tired I was! This was really the time to test my perseverance and I do thank my dear partner for pushing me on, even though at that time I was feeling less than appreciative of his efforts!!

The road was never ending and it was rolling hills all the way! We found out at the end of our journey that we actually cycled another 45km instead! It was getting dark and the roads began to be very quiet. Mak kept saying that he didn't recognise the roads or the signboards along the way (he has been been to Banding island and Gerik before for his fishing trips) I just kept quiet as I was really too exhausted to even care! All I wanted was some food and dry clothes!

It started to drizzle again when we got into the outskirts of Gerik town and Mak found a restaurant nearby before the real thunderstorm came in. We got to the restaurant just in time before it started to pour down heavily soon after!

I couldn't believe what a day it had been! We were on our bikes for about 8 hours plus and mostly uphills...the longest since our tour began. Even though I was hungry, I just couldn't eat because of sheer exhaustion! Mak tried to cheer me up but to no avail! I do marvel at his strength and perseverance and I thank him deeply for that!!

I told him that I would need at least 2 nights in Gerik to recover and he willingly agreed. After waiting for the rain to slow down to a drizzle, we cycled further into town to look for a hotel. We found a pretty decent one and began unpacking and bringing our bikes up.

That night, after a good shower, it dawned on me why I was so exhausted and I apologised to Mak for my outburst. He took in his stride and I told him that he was my shining star for being the awesome guy that he was :o) That must have made his day hehehe.....

Day 32 : Kota Bharu - Wakaf Bharu - Rantau Panjang - Jeli

Date : April 3rd, 2009
Distance travelled : 125 km
Time taken : 6.40 hours

We woke up to a beautiful morning! No sign of any rain...yay! Guess Mak's wishes did come true :o) Once again, we got up early as we knew it was going to be a long day of riding because we wanted to visit two buddhas before heading down to Jeli.

We found out from Razani that there was another way to Jeli from the sleeping buddha and it was the countryside roads which was what we wanted :o) So from his directions, we headed first for the standing buddha (which turned out to be a sitting buddha instead!) It took us much longer than expected to find the first one. We went into a few temples which we thought was the one but there weren't any huge buddhas around until we asked someone and found out that the sitting buddha was just down the road.

So off we went searching for it and when we finally came to it, it was what I was expecting...a huge buddha sitting down :o) We took a few pictures there and went to look for the big one...the sleeping buddha....the largest in South East Asia!

Huge sitting buddha!

According to Razani, we should turn left at the traffic lights and the sleeping buddha should be around 2-3km away. So with confidence, we turned left at the traffic lights and cycled until the end of the road but still no signs of any sleeping buddha!!! Luckily, it was only 4km to the end of the road. Mak decided to ask some people at a food stall and I secretly laughed when they pointed the opposite direction from where we came from!!! hahaha....Boy, this sleeping buddha has been taking us on a wild goose chase!!! In the end, we realised that Razani did give us the wrong direction!! Oh well, it was all good :o)

Once again, we detoured and went back to where we came from and after the traffic lights, we headed straight on and finally found the entrance to the elusive sleeping buddha!! After taking some photos of the sleeping buddha, we stopped by a food stall within the premise and had something to eat. We had the nasi kerabu, thai style. Tasted a bit different!

Ahh, finally the entrance of the elusive sleeping buddha!

Mak finally got his wish to see this elusive sleeping buddha :o)

Wat Phothivan is where you can find the largest sleeping buddha in South East Asia!

Nasi Kerabu, thai style!

Satisfied now that we have finally gotten to see the famous and elusive sleeping buddha, we started our way to Rantau Panjang, which was about 24km away. The road to there was pretty scenic with paddy fields on our left. Rantau Panjang is on the border between Malaysia and Thailand. It took us about an hour plus to reach there and decided to stop for lunch. The town has a duty free zone as well but the scene wasn't really our cup of tea!

Great! the sign to Rantau Panjang!

One of the many beautiful roads during our tour....:o)

Great sceneries too!

Duty free zone in Rantau Panjang

If you go straight, you will be heading to Sg. Golok, Thailand!

It started to rain while we were about to finish our lunch so we had to wait for awhile for it to stop. Luckily, it was a passing cloud and we could continue with our journey. Halfway riding out of Rantau Panjang, the rain started again and this time, it got really heavy! We had to seek for shelter at a bus stop and decided to play cards while waiting!

Our dear friend wasn't too happy having to wait for the rain to stop!

Our bikes seeking shelter from the rain as well :o)

After waiting for about 40 minutes, the rain subsided a bit but we decided that we have to make a move if we wanted to reach Jeli before dark. It was still a long way to go! We cycled in the rain for about an hour plus before hitting the highway. The light rain continued on while we were on the highway. Once we hit the highway, the highlands were on our left side and the mountains were beautiful with the clouds hanging around them.

Breathtaking....view from the highway to Jeli

We were in pretty high spirits when we realised that our destination was nearing! We passed by a R&R on our right and we didn't think to stop and check it out because friends did tell us that there were a few accommodations in town...hmmm!

When we finally arrived Jeli town, we really didn't know what to expect of this town. Friends have warned us that this town has nothing at all and everything closes on a Friday! Well, we found out the hard way.....:o) It was true, nothing was opened and we couldn't find a place to stay because the one by the lake, the owner wasn't around and there wasn't any other place! Someone said that we should have stopped at the R&R 7 km back!! What???

Finally, a kind soul decided to help us to look for a place. He took us to another place and told us to wait for awhile while he went looking for the person in charged of the run down looking shacks.

After awhile, he came back and had some good news! He managed to locate the guy and he was on his way to meet us. We were already wet, tired, cold and hungry and we couldn't be too fussed about what we got as long as there was a place to stay for the night! Well, we can't say much about the accommodation we had! Just that we had to use our 1.5 litre water bottle to shower and that the bed kind of sunk in the centre!!

It was an early night for us in Jeli as there wasn't anything to do in this sleepy town and also, we had a long day. We walked out to a nearby stall for our dinner (lucky for us it was opened!) and bought some food and water for the next day before heading back to our little shack.....

So what have we learnt from this experience? We should have stopped at the R&R and checked it out first! Oh well, we learn something new everyday!! :o)

Oh by the way....did I tell you that we had a visitor throughout the night? A firefly decided to keep us company for the entire night!!! I told Mak he finally got to see his firefly hehehe.......

Finally, Jeli town is nearby!!

"Wow! Welcome to Jeli in peace!!"

I think this might be the Stong mountain.....:o)

Day 31 : Kota Bharu (yup, still here!!)

Date : April 2nd, 2009
Distance travelled : 0 km
Time taken : 0 hours

We planned that since we were going to have a pretty long journey today to Jeli, we were going to start around 7am because we still wanted to visit the sleeping & sitting buddha along our way. Yes, we actually got ready by 7.30am! Wow, that was an achievement for us hehehe!

As we were about to get on our bikes, it started to rain!!!! We realised that every time we wanted to start early, it RAINED!! Aarrgghh! I think God must have wanted us to start late each time for our tour!! So we waited and waited and waited but the rain didn't stop!! I told Mak if by 10am, the rain kept continuing, we might as well stay another day here!! By then, I was already getting sleepy and lethargic :o) It was actually such a nice day to sleep in!! hehehe.....

So in the end, we decided that we will stay another night here! We checked in again, went for breakfast and slept!! We woke up around 4pm and were hungry! Mak said he saw a rojak stall nearby and we went looking for it then :o) The fruit rojak was yummy and we found out about one interesting fruit called "buah katak puru" (literally meaning toad fruit!) When eaten, it tasted sourish but nice, similar like young mangoes :o) Goes well with the spicy shrimp paste!

Everyone...this is called buah katak puru! (toad fruit, in direct translation!) Think you can understand why it was named that!

After that, we decided to cycle around the town and to look for bicycle shops just to while our time away. In one shop, we found that someone was really creative in recycling bicycle parts and making an item out of them.....have a look below...

how cool is this??? Amazing!

That night, Mak hoped and prayed that the next day would be a beautiful day for us to start riding to Jeli! Well, let's keep our fingers crossed!! :o)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day 30 : Kota Bharu - Pantai Cahaya Bulan - Tumpat - Kota Bharu

Date : April 1st, 2009
Distance travelled : 48 km
Time taken : 2.40 hour

It was a beautiful morning today! Another day of bright sunshine and clear blue skies!! A nice day for sightseeing :o)

Our first aim was to go and visit the "Beach of Passionate Love!" up north. Apparently, while Mak was doing his research on interesting places to visit, this place caught his attention! To tell you the truth, underneath his tough exterior, he really is a true romantic at heart!! :o)

According to the staff at the PCB resort, the beach was named that way because there used to be lots of lovers hanging around the beach at night :o) Well, I'm sure there are still lots now!!

When we reached to the famous beach, we were expecting a sandy beach but what we saw was a beach of rocks! Imagine holding your lover's hand and groping your way in the dark on the rocks!! Not very romantic eh?? hehehe. Anyway, it did have its charms :o)

the way to the "beach of passionate lurve"!

Wow, such a romantic name but it's now changed to Pantai Cahaya Bulan!

Mr. "Macho Man"?? :o)

He said that my hair looked like a horse hair...so much for being a romantic at heart!! hahaha

According to my "lurve guru", the sign above is the symbol of love!! Did you all know this??

Interesting painting on a boat that caught his "artistic" eye :o)

Passage of lurve???

Hmm...has he gotten over his phobia about cows?? I meant, fake cows with horns!! hehehe

As we were leaving this interestingly named beach, we decided to stop by a foodstall to have a refreshing coconut drink as it was already hot by then :o) Mmm....the coconut drink was lovely, especially eating the young sweet tasting flesh!! Mak then said that he wanted to see whether we could find a batik factory to see how batik was being printed. So we went in search for one along the way back and finally found a one under a kampung house on stilts!

It was really interesting to see how batik was being painted from the start. In the beginning, a silk cloth will be stretched over a wooden frame where the artist will start drawing from his memory, using candle wax. After which, it will be transferred to another frame where the women will start painting while creating more patterns on the cloth. It was amazing to see how effortlessly they did this.

After the whole cloth was painted, it was then left to dry shortly before soaking in a special solution to maintain its colouring. After which, it will be dried in the hot sun before being packed and ready for shipment.

They told us that the batiks were actually Indonesian batiks and not local ones. Interesting eh?

Batik in the making...

the design drawn by the artist first...

These women effortlessly painting on the cloth free hand!!

the finished product.....

Batiks being dried in the sun...

Ahh...such vibrant colours!!

After our little discovery, we went to look for the famous sleeping buddha which was said to be the largest in South East Asia, 44 metres long, 11 metres high and 9 metres wide! We already had directions from friends but somehow, we seemed to have lost our way finding it!

In the end, we asked a local guy and he gave us directions (which we later found out was wrong!!) We went to the direction that the guy gave us and after cycling for about half an hour with no signs of anything, I decided to call it quits as it was going to rain and getting dark. I asked Mak whether he wanted to continue searching for it but he said it was alright. We could find it tomorrow. So we turned and headed back to Kota Bharu. On our way back, we decided to stop for some tea and try out some local delicacies which was pretty tasty :o)

That night, I called Razani to ask him for the exact directions to the sleeping Buddha and that was when we found out that the local guy gave us the wrong information! So it actually worked out to our favour that we didn't continue on in the end :o) Sometimes, things just work themselves out mysteriously!! hehehe